Illustration by Clara Nicoll

Displaced life: What my trauma has taught me

I have faced some really difficult times, but recently I’ve been reflecting on how much I’ve grown as a person
March 1, 2024

This is my first column in 2024. And as we look forward into the new year, something from the old lingers. It’s the year of the dragon in the Chinese zodiac, which means it’s supposed to be a most auspicious year. I am on the fence about that one, with the UK government pushing through its Rwanda policy and with 3,830 refugee households across England facing homelessness. Add to that the Home Office plans to deport 30,000 people seeking asylum, and the beginnings of 2024 feel like they are full of unfinished business.

This month, in the lead up to my judicial review court hearing about my asylum case, I have been reflecting on trauma. Before the hearing last week, I was in a state of numbness. I have been in and through the asylum system so many times that I feel like butter over-spread on toast.

Dragging myself through hell to become my greatest self took everything I had

My journey has been so gruelling. But it has also taught me a lot about myself. I’ve met versions of myself I didn’t like and wasn’t proud of. I’ve changed my ways and challenged my patterns of behaviour. I’ve left behind pieces of me right where they were and started over. Dragging myself through hell to become my greatest self took everything I had.

Accountability was the key to finding my inner strength and peace. I needed to find the courage to sit with the uncomfortable truth about my part in stories that have ended in heartache. To bloom into a worthy soul, I had to become conscious of my wrongs and rewrite them. It was my responsibility. I couldn’t heal if I didn’t confront my trauma. I needed to identify my triggers and let them sit with me. Cry until I couldn’t breathe, see all sides to every story. Grace myself with forgiveness. I needed to be uncomfortable to heal.

I’ve learnt that the greatest investment you can make is in yourself. You can’t fail at trying to become a better person—the effort is the point. And the more you learn, the more you grow. In the past, I would isolate myself when I needed to feel whole, but I sank deeper into loneliness and depression. I needed good vibes and uplifting energy. To hide from the world and myself was dangerous. I needed to find the emotional strength to be open with others again. 

Now I choose to be in spaces that keep me protected and among souls who respect, treasure and inspire me. I don’t have time to waste on anyone who doesn’t deserve to experience me. The real flex is being your authentic self without care of judgement, acceptance or validation. There’s a glow to loving who you are without a reward from the outside world.

You outgrow what no longer serves you. Who I am in this era is someone I’ve been searching for my whole existence. I’m not defined by my past versions. And whatever happens next in my asylum claim, I know I’ll be rooting for myself and loving myself regardless.